Over the years, we have seen some stellar instances of augmented reality that have quite literally floored us. Augmented reality is the perfect amalgamation of the real world with the virtual one, thus adding to your real-life experiences. Whether it’s something like Pranav Misrty’s SixthSense, a wearable gestural interface, or Google’s Project Glass, the possibilities are limitless. Today, the use of augmented reality is slowly becoming mainstream and it can be found in smartphones, cars, gaming consoles, table tops, movies, architecture, aircraft cockpits, magazines and much more. In the near future, we will witness increased use of augmented reality in our everyday surroundings. Here we take a look at some instances of AR that have stood out.
Nokia City Lens will provide you relevant information about the spaces around you
Information at fingertips
Possibly, the best use of augmented reality is bringing realtime information about places as you walk past them. There are apps that do just that. Developed in Austria and published in 2008, Wikitude is amongst the oldest freely available location based AR apps. As you scan your surroundings using your mobile phone camera, Wikitude will display information about them. Another similar app is Layar, which displays information in the form of digital layers while bringing you additional information in the form of videos, links etc. It also includes social media integration that allows you to share the experience via Facebook or Twitter and even email. You can also create a list of favourites. Recently, Nokia introduced City Lens, a similar location-based AR app. The app shows you places of interest, landmarks, stores, restaurants etc. Tapping on one of them will provide you with reviews, contact details, directions and more. It even allows you to customise your searches. Acrossair also offers similar features
Google's Project Glass is a highly anticipated AR device
While these are apps dependent on smartphones, there are many wearable AR devices that have been around for a couple of years. However, one particular device has garnered a lot of interest; not surprising as it comes from Google’s backyard. Project Glass takes Google Goggles a step forward as a head mounted AR device that will display information about your surroundings and facilitate voice-based searches over the Internet. And they look cool too! Demonstrations of the prototype began in April this year and have managed to cause quite a stir. The one that particularly caught everyone’s attention was the live streaming of video captured by skydivers who were wearing the glasses. While this is definitely not the first instance of a wearable AR device, it’s certainly the most anticipated one. Other similar wearable AR devices include iOptik, EyeTap, Golden-i and SixthSense, to name a few.
AR apps that you have to download to view advertisements cannot be used for anything else and thus become useless. That’s when Junaio, an augmented reality browser, comes in. You can use its various channels to experience augmented reality initiatives; it also includes a barcode and QR code scanner. Another useful app is Post-it PopNotes App by 3M. It allows you to post virtual notes on a real wall. You can even control and set the visibility of notes to only to those you are connected with or make them visible to anyone using the app. It also allows you to set reminders at locations of your choice. However, this service is currently limited to the US only. On the other hand, if you are looking for a social networking app based on AR, then Wallit is what fits the bill. How does it work? When you point your phone camera to a building or a monument, Wallit will display “marks” that others have posted. These marks could be text, photos or even videos. This information will be displayed on a virtual wall and you have the option to add your marks that will be visible to other app users. Just like Twitter, there is a limitation of 140 characters.
Star Chart will appeal to those who like star gazing
Another great AR app is Star Chart, which is available for Android and iOS. Those interested in astronomy would simply love this app. When you point your phone camera towards the sky, it will provide you with information of what you are looking at. If you see something interesting, then tap on it to get more information. The app can accurately provide information of over 5,000 stars and planets, and all 88 constellations. Another useful app we came across is the iOnRoad driving safety app, which makes use of the phone camera, GPS and sensors to detect other vehicles and sound warnings when you are in danger of a collision. It works even when the app is running in the background. Additionally, it also provides a warning if your vehicle is drifting off a road at a speed of over 60 km/h. You can also use it to locate your car in a parking lot using GPS.